I have been caught in three flash floods. Frightening experiences. The water surges up in seconds, and I know that I have no time to respond. But I have been very fortunate to get through them with but a second or two to spare.
The first flash flood I experienced was driving to Wichita. My family was in the car, and on a stretch of highway, hidden in a soft valley between two inclines, was a lake of water. The rain made it difficult to see until we were in the middle of it. Water at the level of our tires. We were in a Jeep, and made it through. But I had a premonition of disaster for those behind us. Should I get out and stop them? Should we find some place to call? This was right before cell phones were in everyone’s pocket. And the stretch of road was so isolated that there was no place to stop.
I wish with every ounce of me that I did stop. Thirty minutes later a roaring burst of water hit a van with a family of seven. Only the dad survived. He lived three miles from me. Oh, the ashes of his agony were heaped on my head! True instinct, when denied, is a bitter pill. Yet he had hope in his despair. As a devout Christian, he hoped that this horrible disaster would allow his testimony to shine.
My second flash flood was in my Subaru Outback. And that car saved me. Driving in a pouring rain, I was forced to stop by cars ahead of me. Our side of the road was badly flooded. I saw the rush of water down the steep hill coming right for us, and with an instinct of disaster, without thinking, I rammed my car over a muddy divide and drove hell for leather on the other side of the road. A risky chance. Any car coming around the curve would have creamed me. But I chanced to look back. Cars mid-door deep in water. Again no cell phone to call.
My third flirt with flash flooding is a repeating problem. The picture above is, I think, the area I drive in, and notorious for sudden flash flooding. I park in an area that is a valley between the main hills of Kansas City downtown. There is poor drainage, and water can suddenly rise in seconds from I-have-no-clue-where. I was driving after rain through the area, mildly flooded but still drivable, when the water started churning. And in seconds I was tire deep in water. I could see the end of it, and gunning my car (not the good thing to do but thank God it didn’t stall), I made it out of the danger zone. I looked back and the area was flooded up to the buildings. All in a matter of seconds. This has happened to me twice. While both times I got out just in time, there is no guarantee that the next time will protect me.
People scoff at the “stupid” drivers who get caught in flash floods. But it only takes seconds for the water to engulf you. Where it comes from is a mystery to me, at least from the examples above. Why all of a sudden? Where was it before?